Improve your online privacy by automatically deleting cookies

We all know how much surveillance we’re under on a daily basis.  Things like social media sharing buttons and remarketing campaigns don’t help any.  By merely visiting a site with a social media sharing button, that organization can build profiles on your browsing habits, regardless if you’re signed in to that social media platform or not.  Not only is this a privacy concern, but it’s a money maker for analytics organizations.

One way that I’ve found to improve my online privacy is to set Firefox up to clear my cookies after every session.  I tried some plugins that automatically cleared cookies for each tab after closing them, but found the plugins to cause a performance decrease.  Then I realized that the functionality, largely, was already built-in to Firefox.

The overall concept is to have Firefox clean out all of your cookies after you close the browser.  We’ll keep cookies around while browsing (useful for shopping carts, etc.), but once you close Firefox it will delete everything.  The next time you open the browser, you’ll be free from nuisance tracking cookies.  It’s very refreshing to not be constantly followed around by remarketing ads when browsing the interwebs.

Here’s what you’ll need to begin:

  • Firefox
  • LastPass

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Go to Settings > Privacy
  2. Under History > Firefox will:, select Use custom settings for history
  3. Enable Accept cookies from sites
  4. Set Accept third-party cookies to Never
  5. Set Keep until to I close Firefox
  6. Click the Exceptions button
    1. Add
    2. You can add any other domains you want to keep cookies for, but I recommend keeping this list very short! You would not want to add any big domains like Google, Amazon, etc. to this list, otherwise it will defeat the purpose of this project.

A side effect of this scheme is that you’ll constantly be logged out of every site that you interact with (Amazon, Google, etc.) and have to sign back in each time you launch your browser.  However, if you use a password manager like LastPass, this login process is done for you automatically so you’ll only experience a brief delay when going to sites in the next session.  Just be sure to follow the step above to whitelist the domain so that LastPass itself stays authenticated between browser sessions.